You And Me


lynette_icon.gif mateo_icon.gif

Scene Title You and Me
Synopsis Maybe we always meet. You and me.
Date December 4, 2016

The Benchmark Center: Mexico

Like many nights since he came to stay at the Rehab center, the sounds of music can be heard coming from one of the common areas, where he's set up his guitar and started to play and sing. His audience comes and goes, usually between songs, and as the night approaches and darkens the sky, only a handful remains. Mateo's on his last song for the night.

You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one

As usual, he sticks to happier, inspirational songs, ones of hope and renewal. Those here don't need anything sad, or painful. The few that remain, give him a polite clap, some even go up and shake his hand before they leave, letting him pack up his guitar so he can return to his room for the night.

'Cause even when he's not sleeping in his room he stores his things there.

It's hard to say how long she's been there, but Lynette has settled against the doorframe with her arms crossed loosely and a smile on her face as she watches him play. It's the kind of smile that she would hide if anyone was actually looking at her. But since they aren't she lets it linger there.

Only when his audience starts to leave does she straighten up. She ruffles one of the kid's hair — probably because he should have been in bed ages ago — and says her good nights to the others as she makes her way into the common room.

It's a little more obvious that she's there when they're all talking to her.

Her smile turns more crooked when she comes over his way, but she greets him with a kiss to his cheek. And then she drops into one of the emptied seats nearby. "That was lovely, Mateo," she says. And that she means, as she means it everytime.

"Can't go wrong with Lennon, even when not all of them understand English," Mateo responds to the words and the kiss with a grin, leaning into it so that he can return it for a second, even if hers had been on the cheek. It's quick, but still heartfelt. He always felt better after he sung. It quieted the demons. "I almost sung something from Petty, but most his songs are a little too heartbreaking." Yes, that's a pun of sorts.

Clicking the guitar case shut, he settles his smile on her, more genuine than it had been when he first came to stay among them. The longer he stays, the more relaxed his smile seems to get. Especially since no incidents had occured, outside of the one she managed to stop.

"I should probably get up to bed soon." Though from flash in his eyes he's wondering his bed or hers.

Lynette chuckles a little at the kiss, but returns it, because of course she does. And it seems to make her smile linger a little longer. Until, that is, she has to break it to give him a look for that bit of wordplay. "I'm not sure how they would take Don't Come Around Here No More. And Last Dance With Mary Jane is right out." For obvious reasons.

His hinting brings a smile back around though and she tilts her head as she looks over at him. "Are you asking me for a sleepover?" She sees that look. She knows that look.

From his grin, Mateo knows exactly what she means, knowing full well to stay away from songs about addiction, drugs or, well, anything too depressing. Imagine was a song of hope, of looking at the world in a better light. It worked well for them. So did most his other songs that he chose. Some had even been in Spanish.

"Why yes, mi relámpago. I am asking for a sleep over. I've gotten used to having company." The nickname is said in a teasing fashion, because teases are safer for the both of them, still. It makes the whole thing seem casual.

Even when it's not.

And Lynette reacts to the tease with a groan, but an overdramatic one. Because she doesn't mind it, really. She even likes it, even if she doesn't say so. Maybe the way she reaches over for his hand after is meant to imply it, though.

"Well, you're always welcome," Lynette says, echoing his tone, "we could even have a pillow fight."

But instead of getting up and heading in that direction, she looks over at him with a curious expression. "Would you indulge me first?" First? "I've been doing paperwork for the last two hours, and so of course, I was thinking about something else and I might have… a theory. About El Umbral," she says, giving the name some weight. It deserves some. "And how it relates to Borges' obsession." Metaphysics isn't everyone's idea of foreplay, but.

El umbrales. That the name he'd come up with for it is used makes him smile, moving a little closer to her as they walk, even if Mateo has no idea exactly what she's implying. While they had spoken about Borges as somehow understanding certain concepts that their lives suddenly made very real, he doesn't know if they should be taking his books as prophecy. "Sounds like you read my book already," is all he says to it. He is curious, after all. The Borges obsession had been his too, in a way.

Obsession enough that he got a tattoo.

"So what have you worked out?" he asks, carrying the guitar case at his side as they walked through the halls.

"Well. It was a good book," Lynette points out. Which is true! She hooks her arm around his as they pass through the hall. "It's just a theory. And there is no way to actually test it, but tell me what you think." She likes puzzles, even if there's no real answer. "So, your umbrales, they connect two points in space. What if just one… what if it connects two points in time or across timelines? Maybe only you can go through it safely. We know it doesn't hurt you, but it calls for you. Maybe it doesn't want to destroy you like everything else, maybe it wants to take you." Maybe there's a Ruiz somewhere with enough of the dark to hop through endless times, trying to find some kind of relief.

"And like I said, we're not testing it, but, you know." For all that she can't possibly know if she's right, she certainly seems to feel like she is.

"Yeah, I don't think I'm going to test that theory," Ruiz admits with a side glance for a moment, before he feels that hunger in the back of his mind growing stronger for a moment. It doesn't help he focused on it. That seemed to draw it more into the front of his mind. "But it seems a little… farfetched." Mostly because he's seen what it does to people, what happens to them if the vortex happened to be too small for them to fit.

And part of him would have liked to once believe that there had been some hidden point to that aspect of his ability…

Other than to destroy things.

"You better not, unless you figure out how to take me with you," Lynette says, dancing a little close to admitting something there, but she doesn't seem to notice. Maybe she's distracted by his ability. By him. "Less farfetched than you'd think. Did Gillian leave the kids from the future out of her book? That was one of the best parts." She doesn't… appear to be kidding.

"The thing is, Mateo…" That's where she hesitates. Worry crosses her features and she looks over at him while she debates internally. "The guy, the one who took my bullet?" He remembers that story, surely. "He didn't just look like you, he was you. I mean, not you you, but a you. From another time or… another… path through the garden. I didn't know him, but he knew me. Enough to know my power inside and out, anyway."

As the reasoning behind the theory is explained, Mateo slows in his steps, then stops all together. Right in the middle of the hallway. It had been one thing to hear of a man who had been willing to die to make sure she got out, it was another to hear that it might have been him. A him from another part of the Garden, or another time.

If she didn't notice him stopping, by the time he looks to meet her eyes again she might be ahead of him down the hall. "So… potentially. At some point, I might travel back in time and die to save you? Or— another me entirely already did."

With all the things that Evolved abilities seemed capable of, such a thing might be possible. There's no joking. Not right now. He's still trying to wrap his head around the whole thing. It had been one thing as a story in a book, another thing when… He murmurs something under his breath in Spanish, too soft to properly make out.

Lynette notices a few steps beyond him and turns back toward him. She doesn't seem all that surprised that it throws him for a loop and she steps back over to keep the conversation somewhat private. As much as she can in the hallway.

"Well, yes. It already happened. I don't know if it was you from the future or another Mateo from another place." She's repeating herself, but maybe she's just trying to help it sink in. "I think I must have trained him. Or… his Lynette trained him." That's something that she's been running through her mind for years. And while it might be flattering to think of it a different way, that's the explanation she's settled on. "Maybe we always meet. You and me."

Another me from another place. Who met another her.

Maybe we always meet. You and me.

"In one world, we might even meet as enemies," Mateo responds after a few quiet moments, thinking on this whole situation. He's partially quoting Borges, there. The story had spoken of meeting as enemies and as friends. In fact the whole thing revolved around a guy claiming himself a friend— and then shooting the other man in the back.

In one reality, that conversation probably would have ended differently.

"I'm glad that he was there," he adds after a moment, looking into her eyes. Cause if he, whoever he had been, had not been there— she might not be here in front of him. "It does explain the way you looked at me when we first met. Like you'd seen a ghost." And maybe she had.

"Maybe. I mean, I hope not. I like this arrangement much better," Lynette says, and while that might normally be said as a joke, it isn't just now. She looks back at him, a bittersweet look coming over her. It's hard to say if she's glad of how that particular situation turned out. But she shifts, moving her hand up to rest against his cheek. "It's a difficult face to forget."

Her hand drops after a moment, and she looks down the hallway. "Sorry if that… is a weird story for you to hear. I've been going back and forth on whether I should tell you or not." Her hands move to her hips, like maybe she's still not sure.

"Oh, it's a weird story, for sure," Mateo responds, running his free hand through his hair. No doubt it's weird. "But I'm glad you told me. You had me at an unfair advantage there for a minute." Knowing that, at least in one world, he had felt her someone worth taking a bullet for. Now he wondered, who he had been, who she had been… And if he had somehow left her, in order to end up in a place like this.

Instead of letting the rather deep thoughts fill his mind, he offers her a joking smile, "It is a difficult face to forget. Especially the nose." Self-depreciation makes his thinking himself handsome a little less conceited.

"Did I? And I gave it up? That's so unlike me," she says, and that is a joke. Maybe it had been less of one in the past, but these days… well, she's different. She wants to be different. He makes her want to be different.

Lynette looks back to him, returning the smile a little crookedly. "I like the nose," she says, her tone warmer there. She even reaches up to tap it, for emphasis. But then she takes his hand, tugging him along to continue down the hallway. "I'm glad that I got to meet this you, you know."

It's good there's a joking tone to everything at the moment. It could also be their way of keeping what they seem to have casual, even as she taps his nose and tugs his hand down the hallway. Mateo hears those words— and they don't sound like a joke at all. The echo his sentiments. He's glad she met the other him, and ever so grateful she met this him. "Glad for that," he says as she pulls him along, waiting until they're closer to the door before he adds on a soft, and possibly too serious, "'Cause you're stuck with me."

His hand tightens around hers, for emphasis. He knows that look in her eyes when she wants to run away, he feels it sometimes too. Not that he'll let her, right now, if he can stop it.

Lynette seems all too happy to lead the way up to their floor and down toward her room. It's in the space between his door and hers that the words bring her to a slow stop. Or rather, the tone they're delivered in. She's said things similar to that, after all, but with a smile and a laugh. Her brow furrows together while she tries to work out her response. Her feelings.

But she doesn't try to pull away. It might be a good sign. When she turns back toward him, she looks to their hands first, but it isn't hard to tell she's troubled by it. Or him. Or both.

"If you knew me better," she ends up saying, "you wouldn't say things like that." The other Ruiz didn't know her either, judged her by another woman's life, another woman's achievements. When she finally looks up at him, it's a mix, the fear he's familair with and the hope she tries to bury.

That fear. Mateo had known it would be a possibility, if he didn't phrase it as a cheesy joke not to be taken seriously. But he's been here a month now. The jokes will only carry them so far, and it seemed it may have reached a limit. That emptiness awakens in his head, as if spurned by some emotion he's feeling, to get louder, like that feeling of blood thumping in the air, causing a ring with each heartbeat. Only for him it is like the ocean crashing against rocks.

"I actually think I know you better than I've known anyone in a long time." It might not be knowing her in the way she thinks he should, but no one has ever looked at him the way she does, no one has ever trusted him the way she seems to.

"I don't have to know everything," there's things about him that he still thinks she would recoil if she knew. "But I think I know enough."

Closing her eyes, Lynette tips her head down while he talks. Her lips press together. Her hand tightens on his. "You don't understand," she says quietly, shaking her head a little. "The people I choose don't choose me," she says, looking up, but only enough to look over his shoulder. Not quite at him. "They find out the thing about me — whatever it is — that they can't live with and they leave. And that's fine. I don't hold it against them."

Her free hand reaches up to cover her face as she pauses to try to push back some of that emotion. She lets out a slow exhale and her gaze flicks over at him. It's possible she doesn't realize how she looks at him. Like her heart will break if he leaves. Like he's the only bright spot she's ever seen. She looks at him like that now. "I'm scared," she finally admits, even if it only manages to come out in a whisper.

Oh, he understands. Does he ever understand. Mateo has avoided people for years because of all the things within him that he loathed. Part of him will always wait for that moment when she will realize that she should never have met him at all. Either of him. But today is not that day. As she admits her fear in a whisper, he leans enough to put down his guitar so he has both hands free, free enough to touch her face in both hands, to brush his thumbs against her cheeks as he lifts her eyes up to his once again.

"There's nothing I could find out about you that would ever make me leave." It's simple, true. If, one day, it did happen— it would not be because of her past, or anything she did. He's sure on that, just from what little he knows of her.

It would be because of him.

Lynette sighs gently when he touches her face. Her heartbeat picks up and there's a flutter in her stomach that she can't get a handle on. She leans into one of his hands and hers comes up to cover it. At his direction, she looks over at him, eyes glistening. The words would be easy to argue with. She knows that words are not promises and that promises are easily broken. Feelings change. But however that impulse might tug at her, tell her to stay safe, while she looks over at him it becomes easier to ignore. And maybe there are people that are worth it, taking a leap and maybe falling flat.

Lynette steps forward, rising up on her toes to kiss him. It's different now, and it's subtle, but there is a vulnerability there — a show of trust that she hasn't wanted to give to any one else since she was young and stupid. Her fingers curl around his shirt, holding him close to her even once she breaks the kiss.

Her eyes don't open and she doesn't go far, not as much as a breath away. But she has a boost of courage and she's riding it as long as it'll last. So there is a beat, but no hesitation longer than that before she speaks.

"Te adoro, Mateo."

Hands rest on neck, fingers in hair as Mateo kisses her back, letting those masks come off for the moment. He'd already had, in part, but something always seems held back with him. Just not this. When it breaks and she speaks, she'll hear a soft sound of against her lips, almost like a surprised laugh. The kind someone makes when they hear something they don't expect to hear, the kind that carries amazement. And happiness.

"Yo sé," he whispers, before adding on, "Yo también."

While he often seems confident, and that answer definitely has some 'yeah, I know' quality to it, it's still part of that old mask he has a hard time taking down fully. It was the second part, the softer part, that came without the confidence, that hinted at vulnerability. Because he too, cares for her. More than he'd been willing to say when she'd looked at him with that fear.

Fear that's still there, just further away. Quieter. Like that constant gnawing in the back of his head.

Those first words get a look, but it's a playful one. Lynette doesn't let go of him, even if he does edge toward teasing for a moment. That vulnerability, though, that brings a softer expression to her face and she leans in to press a kiss to his cheek, then another to the corner of his lips. Saying without saying that he'll be safe with her.

When she looks back up at him, she presses her lips together, considering her next words for a moment. But, whatever is going on in her head, they come all but barreling out of her a moment later. "If you want to be in this, I want to be in this. I mean, I want to be in it either way," she adds with an embarrassed huff. She tilts her head back to consult the ceiling on how poorly she's doing.

Not too poorly, from the way he kisses her neck while she looks up at the ceiling. "Oh, I'm in this," Mateo responds, not quite teasing, but there's sudden amusement to his voice, maybe because she seems to be asking plaster a question. That it won't be able to answer. "I think I've been in this since you jumped in front of me." Oh, he'd cared about her before that. Since she didn't run away when he mentioned his ability, when she made it quiet in his head more than anything else ever had—

But that was the moment he realized how much he had, because the thought of anything happening to her had terrified him more than anything else had in a long time.

Lynette's grip on him tightens at that kiss and when she looks back to him (since the plaster did not have an answer), her smile broadens and she barely holds back kissing him again. She teeters a little while he finishes his thought, even when his reasoning gets a laugh out of her. Not because she finds it funny, but because she believes him.

It's been a while.

"Grab your guitar, Mateo," she says as she starts to walk backward toward her door. He has the length of her arm to pick up his case before he gets tugged along with her. She always has been better at showing rather than telling.

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